Given the nature of the error messages I'm getting, I realize this may be a hardware problem, and the timing with the installation of a new OS may be coincidental. If it is, I would like to know what hardware it is so know whether it makes sense to replace the hardware, or get a new computer. If it's not a hardware problem, I need to evaluate what other OSes I could run. I was running an old version of Ubuntu without a problem before this.
I can usually trigger the crash by doing something processor intensive, like playing Dwarf Fortress or a flash game. Crashes sometimes also happen when I'm just browsing the web, so I don't think it's the fault of any applications. Based on the feedback here, I can do whatever system config changes need to happen, then try to trigger the crash and report back.
Also, mcelog is running as a daemon. Here's some output from ps.
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root 1254 0.0 0.0 2760 360 ? Ss 13:52 0:00 /usr/sbin/mcelog --daemon